Prior to the Penguin update release Matt Cutts sent shivers down the spines of Seos all over the English speaking world when he spoke about an impending over-optimization penalty.
Everyone involved in the seo industry prepared for the coming onslaught; some hoping that it would help their well crafted sites in search rankings while others (more experienced in working with Google) were quaking in their boots at the thoughts of just what Google may be planning this time.
However, even though many were still cringing from the memories of the times when Panda had laid waste to websites no-one was really prepared for the full extent of what Penguin was about to do.
After Cutts statement Seos worldwide waited with bated breath on the “over optimization” penalty and when it hit it was worse than anyone could have imagined.
Although Google’s official figure for sites affected by Penguin was in the 3% region this did not seem to be reflected in the seo community. 10s of thousands of sites were affected and many seo companies were destroyed, people lost their jobs, lost their homes and 1 man even took his own life.
Penguin had a much bigger effect than the 3.1% sites that Google said were affected!
Penguin Over Optimzation
Many Seos are still arguing about the main targets of the Penguin update with many claiming that it targeted black hat spam links or heavy use or specific types of backlinks.
Guys wake up none of that is true!
Google want you to believe this because it benefits them. Watch this seminar presentation by a terrific Affiliate Marketer, who makes all his money from ranking his own sites, named Jerry West. In the video he talks about Google’s use of Mind Crimes.
If you are in a rush just watch Jerry’s explanation of a Mind Crime from 3.50 to 4.40.
Regardless of what Google or Matt Cutts say, The Penguin update was about backlink anchor text ratios and nothing else…full stop!
All the data confirms this.
Penguin 1.0 had nothing to do with spam or spam links.
Keyword Over Optimization
Prior to the Penguin update EMK (exact match keyword) anchor text was the main component needed in any backlink profile in order to rank well in Google for that keyword.
Any seo company or individual using seo, who knew what they were doing, heavily relied on the use of EMK backlinks in order to rank well in Google.
In case you do not know – an EMK is a keyword or search phrase that is an exact match of the term you want to rank for in Google. If you want to rank for “best fishing rod” then your EMK anchor text would be “best fishing rod”.
As seos relied very heavily on this ranking metric Google just had to target sites that had a very high percentage of EMK anchors in their backlink profile – as this was a clear indication that the site had been using seo – and penalise that site for that keyword.
This simple approach was all that was needed to take out the majority of Seo-ed sites in one fell swoop.
It was devastatingly effective.
Unfortunately for Google and its users though, the Google algorithm has always relied heavily on backlink anchor text to determine the relevance of the site being linked to. The anchor text used in a site’s backlinks has always been the main way to tell Google what that site is about.
This is the reason Google’s SERPs were turned upside down and became basically useless and irrelevant overnight after the Penguin update.
Google may have successfully eliminated most seo-ed sites instantly but they never bothered to fix their algorithm so it could find alternative relevant sites before they did it.
For the first time in Internet history “relevancy” took a back seat to “seo punishment”. It became more important to punish seo than it was to produce relevant search results.
By penalising site’s using EMK anchors Google scored an own-goal by destroying the relevancy of their search results.
What’s more they not only opened the door to negative seo they actually inspired and created an industry around it simply by allowing backlinks to hurt a website.
Although there are advanced techniques that an Seo can use to protect a site in most cases all a competitor has to do is build tens of thousands of EMK spam links to a website to destroy its rankings.
Not exactly what you would expect from some of the smartest Phds on the planet unless of course innocent websites being harmed and the relevancy of the SERPs becoming a joke was just collateral damage in a game where the main aim was to make Google more money…we wouldn’t like to say so we will let you can be the judge of that.
Now you know what Google Penguin is all about you need to know how to avoid being hit by it.
These days it is best to keep your EMK anchor text below 10% and to use EMK Variations instead. Keep your EMK Variations below 30% – 20% is probably best.
Penguin 2.0 seems to be an attempt to fix the relevancy of the SERPs by switching to a reliance on EMK Variations as a relevancy indicator – the way EMKs used to be.
Most top ranking sites have at least 20% EMK Variations.
You should also use about 30% URL and URL variations as backlink anchors.
Contrary to popular opinion using a lot generic anchors (such as “click here”, “this site” etc.) is not necessary. Keeping generic anchors to about 10% is all you need. If you feel that must use anchors that are unrelated to your search then use LSI keywords that you can get directly from the Google Keyword Tool.
At the moment in SEO as a rule of thumb all you need to do is ensure you are not over optimized for your target keyword (EMK) and then you can just vary all other anchor types. Of course this could change in the future as Google introduce more crazy penalties but we will keep you informed as that happens.